Over the years, college universities try to find new technological advancements to increase their educational stamina or to make their campus more efficient. Professors rely on the internet to post slides for students or for students to get in touch with their professor, without speaking to them in person. The McDonaldization of higher education has made it more difficult for some students to see how to receive a true education, instead of one that required online resources to help find the answers. I argue that McDonaldization has affected higher education because, in my personal experience, it has made students incapable of doing their own schoolwork and that it makes students not learn the true value of education—before technology became so advanced.
George Ritzer, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, explained that McDonaldization is defined as the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world (Ritzer). He then explains that there are four principles of McDonaldization and goes further into detail about each principle. Ritzer explains that the four principles of McDonaldization are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control through nonhuman technology. Each of these principles has been provided by how the fast-food restaurant, McDonald’s, has “taken over the world” (Ritzer). The efficiency of McDonaldization is provided by how fast they serve their food to meet the need for the hunger of their customers. Ritzer then goes on to explain the definition of calculability as the idea of quality over quantity, and how McDonald’s delivers high-quality service to their customers. He continues with the predictability of McDonaldization, by explaining that it is the experience going into a McDonald’s is always the same and repetitious. It gives the customer comfort and cares that they will have their needs met at any location they go to (Ritzer). The control through nonhuman technology of McDonaldization is that it can be closely compared to an assembly line with the customers or the workers. Also, it can be closely related to the up-and-coming technologies that arise through the years that can cause workers to lose their jobs. Ritzer argues that McDonaldization not only affects fast food restaurants, but it also affects education, work, criminal justice systems, family, religion, and other factors of today’s society (Ritzer).
Ritzer’s principles of McDonaldization are closely related to higher education because higher education has shown all principles of McDonaldization. McDonaldization has affected my educational views because of how over time, the value of education, the workload for education, and the experience of receiving education have become more difficult to accomplish because of all the new advancements placed in higher education. This causes many to lose the value of a true education because of the four principles of McDonaldization and how they have affected the ways of education at a higher level.
To further explain my argument, a personal experience that McDonaldization has affected me with the Internet at higher educational levels. Although it is a much faster way of communicating now of days, when it comes to education, it can be a little messy. Throughout my grade school education, I only received paper copies of homework and we did not use the Internet for anything. Once I entered eighth grade and then high school, it all became electronic. The Internet dominated the way of learning because I was assigned homework online every day and teachers rarely gave homework out on paper. This changed the way of education for me because I was not used to having homework online every day and it affected some parts of the way I learned. When I was assigned homework that was on paper, it was harder to comprehend what I was reading or doing because the Internet had all the answers there for me. It became easier to do online assignments rather than paper assignments. This is a part of McDonaldization because the Internet took over society so rapidly that it becomes harder to do things without the Internet.
Another way McDonaldization of education has affected my life is the way of how much one has to spends on their higher education. From high school to college, there is a dramatic increase in how much one has to pay to attend school. Going to a private, catholic, high school, I only had to pay for the tuition of the school, a uniform, and my basic school supplies. Once I started to look for what college I wanted to go to, I started to realize that to just attend a school and live on campus, was almost two to three times greater than high school tuition. I found myself worried that I would not be able to pay for college and that I would not be able to go to the college that I best fit at. I started to look at the financial options that I had available for an incoming freshman and I found many results on what I could do. After applying to college and finding out what financial aid I received from each college, I saw that no matter where I went, I would still be in an excessive amount of debt. I started to realize that even though the state can help lend money for me to attend college, it was not as efficient as it sounds because of the result.
Although the efficiency of the Internet has helped find research and submit assignments faster, it has taken away the value of education that once was before the technological advancements arrived. For example, L.C. Sheahan quotes the book—the McDonaldization of Higher Education written by Dennis Hayes and Robin Wynyard—that McDonaldized universities are increasingly inefficient and unable to complete the basic function (Sheahan). The basic functions of education have become harder to perform because of the technological advancements that have come up over the years. This causes students to not have a strong stigma in reading comprehension, solving problems without the help of online resources, or even applying basic skills that are taught during their educational years, which now has been taken over by advanced technologies (Sheahan). Sheahan goes on to explain more of what Hayes and Wynward lecture about in their book and describes how the point of a degree before McDonaldization was to demonstrate that one had obtained a certain amount of knowledge, but after McDonaldization, degrees lost their sense of connection to education. McDonaldization has detracted students from the traditional goals of receiving a high education and gaining knowledge for them to succeed in their career choices (Sheahan). This goes along with my argument because students are more focused on the activities that are presented in colleges and the technological advancements that are provided, that they have lost the true meaning of what an education is and only goes through college to get a piece of paper that will help them earn better job opportunities.
In addition to Sheahan’s arguments on McDonaldization, Eric Margolis describes that McDonaldization has affected society as a whole and sets aside different scenarios to further explain his topics. Margolis argues that professors at universities have become anxious about the labor relationships between students because of the student-faculty ratios increasing dramatically (Margolis). He explains that faculty members now have to treat their students as “customers” and have to compete with private universities to receive profit. Along with this, Margolis describes how students have to take surveys on their professors at the end of each term and how it is relatable to customer surveys. Margolis agrees that education has become McDonaldized and provides the truth on how students are treated within the college campus. This provides McDonaldization because it shows how some professors are so-called “rated” in their classes and how they perform as a professor overall (Margolis).
This agrees with my argument because higher education has become more so of a restaurant rather than a teaching environment due to how the colleges perform tasks and treat their students. Colleges send out surveys once a month to students to take about what was happened in the past month and how do they feel since attending their school. The McDonaldization of high education has made colleges look like restaurants that want their customer’s feedback because of the number of surveys that are mandatory for students to take. Students have become customer robots to colleges for the school to look good and provide the research given in the responses from the surveys conducted to determine the fate of a professor’s job, to display how students are around campus, and to give people who visit statistics on what students think of their school.
The arguments that Margolis presents are closely related to the ideas of David Hartley that he describes in “The McDonaldization of Higher Education: Food for Thought.” Hartley describes in his article that Ritzer’s principles of McDonaldization are displayed throughout education. Hartley shows how education is related to quantification and calculability by how everything is based on a price and is measured out. This can be shown with the ranking of professors—similar to the argument that Margolis presents (Hartley). Education is represented by nonhuman technologies and efficiency by the use of technology and the advancements of classroom materials. Classroom materials like chalkboards have now evolved into smartboards that can project what a teacher has on their computer and can let students interact with activities within a lesson. Another classroom material that teachers are more adapted to scantrons for tests because it is easier for them to grade student’s tests by putting an answer sheet into the system and having the machine grade the tests. This is efficient for teachers to grade tests faster, but the machine could make mistakes when students do not erase answers and the machine counts that answer.
Hartley’s arguments and conclusions are relatable to my arguments about the McDonaldization of higher education because the way that classrooms have evolved has changed the way of learning for all students. The efficiency of classroom materials may be beneficial to most people, but from a general standpoint, it has also made students lazy in their work and students depend on technology to find their answers for work they have and also they rely on the internet to calculate problems that can be easily done with pencil and paper. His works also help my argument on McDonaldization because education is now a basis of money and how much one spends on their education is what they will receive at the end of their studies. This causes many students to be in a great amount of debt after they graduate their higher educational requirements for their field of study and students are stressed about how they are to pay their debts off.
In the same way as the work of Hartley, Colin Holmes and David Lindsay write about how McDonaldization has affected the education of nursing programs. Holmes and Lindsay describe how the nursing education system has been affected by McDonaldization in the principle of nonhuman technology. The nursing educational system has evolved by the technological advancements provided to them for their studies (Holmes & Lindsay). The education of nursing has evolved by the innovations of vital sign machines—like the blood pressure cuff and thermometer—by becoming digitally advance that a nurse does not need to perform any of the tasks, except for recording the results. This also comes with students learning how to enter medical charts for their patients because the students now learn how to put the medical information onto an online chart, rather than a paper chart that was used before technology (Holmes and Lindsay).
This advancement has become McDonaldized because if something were to happen with technology, the students would not properly know how to record the information by paper charts because they are used to the technological advancements that they were introduced to. This causes issues in the work field once they graduate because they can mess up an important task that can affect the patient’s health or provide the wrong information to the doctor when they check them. Even though this is related to a certain field of study in higher education, it can be an example to other professions because each has its own technological advancements that if anything were to happen, the student would not be knowledgeable in the paper and pen methods. This is an issue in society because the McDonaldization of education can alter the way people learn about their specific professions and by learning the more efficient methods of their materials involved in each profession, they can become less focused on the old methods because of how the world is evolving.
Conversely, many people can counterargue the idea of the McDonaldization of higher education. One way someone can argue for the McDonaldization of higher education is that the technological advancements in the world have made education more efficient and easily accessible for material that is required to gain their education. Many can argue that the Internet can help students learn more about a topic because of all the resources that are provided within a few seconds after they search a topic. This can help students to become smarter with the online information and help them understand topics by watching videos on YouTube or Khan Academy. Another argument that can be made for McDonaldization is that nonhuman technological advancements have made the processes of learning materials faster because of the resources that are provided. Students can use Khan Academy and other educational websites to learn information that they are being taught in their classes and they can do practice problems to practice the materials. This can be helpful for the student when practicing what they are learning outside of the classroom when the teacher is not available to answer questions they have.
In contrast to the counterargument, professors are starting to become obvious to students unless they need help in the classroom because of the technology provided to them. In Hartley’s argument, he provides ways from professors that they see the students use outside resources more than themselves for materials, and this causes the professor to feel that they do not have a job. This promotes my argument of the effect of McDonaldization because the efficiency and technological advancements have taken over the true values of education and replaced it with resources that can provide false information at times.
To summarize, the McDonaldization of higher education has become a major issue as a result of the way of learning and the long-term effects of technology advancing. The McDonaldization of high education has caused many issues in the way students learn and how they deal with debt during their educational career and after. The consequences that appear are becoming a problem because students are relying more on what they learn from Internet sources rather than what they learn from their professors and textbooks. The takeaways can be that education should still teach the original ways of education and go back to the main purpose of education. This can help students gain more knowledge and skills to further succeed in their careers and life in general.
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